Sunday 31 October 2010

The Roadside Shark - Florida Keys' marketing answer to the Giant Gorillia

Fishers of Men

In the early days of PR and marketing one of the big bold milestone steps was the invention of the sandwich board. Put a huge advertising sign on the front and back of some hapless homeless man and have him stand around busy corners. Was a novel approach and it worked ... until every downtown store had their own walking signs. Message was lost in the crowd, and getting across the street was a chore.
Sandwich boards evolved. Clowns handing out flyers, fuzzy animal characters waving at the cars, life-sized robots in shop doors and windows. In the suburbs, merchants started thinking big. Inflatable Air Dancing Men, Giant, blow-up gorillas in the parking lots and blimps tethered to store ceilings.

The evolution of the signboard has made a science out attracting the attention of consumer. Unfortunately, the science of satisfying consumer demands has not. Just because a store has a great sign doesn't mean that once inside there are good prices, unique items for sale -- sometimes it is just the opposite.
In the Florida Keys, there is but one highway that runs from Key West at the southern tip of Florida, 140 miles north to Key Largo. It is a busy highway and vacationers are wont to barrel down Route 1 as fast as they can. Merchants, looking to slow down motorists and hopefully take bite out of their wallets have updated Giant Gorilla strategy with something befitting the Keys.
Just when I thought it was safe to drive the length of the Keys I spotted a number of over sized creatures of the deep, attached or parked in front of stores, from Mile Marker 1 right to 140.

I took these posted pictures (save for Betsy the Lobster which I linked from Sandwich Girls' Flickr account: in October 2010 while driving the length of Route #1.

Top: Over sized Great White Shark head is a daily Kodak moment at the Key West Aquarium. When the cruise ships are in there is a feeding frenzy of photographers
Second from top: Fibreglass Hammerhead wears a tank, weight belt and goggles at Wahoo's seaside restaurant in Islamorada. Very successful in pulling in tourists (we ate there!).
Third from top:Hanging plastic shark at the Islamorada charter fishing dock reels them in (including my wife Maria Nenadovich - the model - and me - the photographer).
Second from bottom: Tilden's dive shop in Marathon has a giant fibreglass Angel Fish in its parking lot.
Bottom: Sandwich Girl's Betsy the Lobster. Fibreglass giant spiny lobster now in front of the Rain Barrel Artists Village in Islamorada. Statue is 30-foot-tall and 40-foot-long


Just returned from a dive writing trip to the Cayman Islands While in Georgetown (the capitol) taking a surface break, I chanced upon a fibreglass shark outfront of a downtown bar. Not sure how Mr. Jaws lost his right flipper (bite off by an even bigger drunk scuba diver?). Picture taken May 3, 2011